Nothing beats face-to-face contact, but telepresence aims to come exceptionally close. By integrating a set of high-performance visual, audio, and network technologies and services, people who are geographically separated can interact in a way that captures many of the best aspects of an in-person experience.
When it is possible to exist and function remotely, the need to travel becomes less necessary. In a world of global-business footprints and international collaboration, if people can work together without being in the same place, they can dodge a host of travel-related emissions.
Telepresence now comes to life in a variety of ways and a diversity of settings. From companies and schools to hospitals and museums, virtual interaction is opening new possibilities. Using a mobile telepresence robot, a surgeon can advise on a rare procedure in real time, without traveling from Austin to Amman, for example. Or, executives in telepresence conference rooms in Sydney and Singapore can debate a possible acquisition without taking a single flight.
Telepresence affords many other benefits: cost savings from avoided travel, less grueling schedules for employees, more productive remote meetings, the ability to make decisions more quickly, and enhanced interpersonal connection across geographies.